Chester Hight often asked his oldest son to visit. The two hadn’t seen each other in almost a year.
“He had various excuses,” Hight said Wednesday morning. “But promised he’d be down.”
Now, that visit will never happen. On Sunday, police say, Hight’s oldest son, Spencer Hight, burst into the Plano home of his estranged wife, Meredith Hight, killing the 27-year-old and seven others in one of North Texas’ worst mass shootings in recent memory.
An officer who responded to the attack fatally shot Spencer, 32.
Spencer’s victims were Rion Morgan, 31; Anthony “Tony” Cross, 33; Olivia Deffner, 24; James Dunlop, 29; Darryl William Hawkins, 22; Myah Bass, 28; and Caleb Edwards, 25. A ninth victim, who hasn’t been named, remains hospitalized.
Chester Hight, speaking out for the first time, told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that the family is living in a “nightmare.”
“I love all my children, but I certainly don’t love what Spencer did. I absolutely hate it,” said the elder Hight, who has three other children. “It’s beyond words.”
The father and son mostly talked online and in texts. But Chester Hight drove to Plano last Thanksgiving to visit Meredith and Spencer and see for the first time the house the couple bought in 2015.
“We had a very nice evening,” he said. “I haven’t seen either one of them since November, and I won’t see them again.”
Records show the couple married in Collin County in September 2011. They exchanged ceremonial vows during a Caribbean cruise the following year. Meredith filed for divorce in July. But Spencer and Meredith hadn’t signed the papers to make it official before the attack.
In an earlier report, Meredith told her parents that Spencer had been violent at least twice — including a time last fall when he slammed her face against a wall. But Debbie Lane, Meredith’s mother, said her daughter hadn’t reported the incidents to police.
Chester Hight said his son called to tell him that he and Meredith were splitting, but he couldn’t speculate about their relationship.
“They didn’t confide in me, let’s put it that way,” he said. “I’ve learned more from reading articles.”
“And Meredith, I really liked Meredith, for what it’s worth. We all had a very good relationship with Meredith.”
Chester Hight said the family also is grieving over the death of others at the party.
“I’m so sorry. We knew some of those kids,” he said. “It’s just really sad.”
On good days, the elder Hight said, Spencer was creative and clever. But he said his son also struggled with drinking. The father, who described himself as a strong Christian, said Spencer was an atheist, but he still loved him.
“I never thought something like this would occur,” Chester said. “I need to protect the other kids, my other children. They don’t deserve this.”